Children seeking help for anxiety increases by a third

The number of young people and children looking for help with anxiety has jumped sharply, figures from a children's charity indicate.Data from the NSPCC's Childline service showed that it dealt with 11,706 counselling session where anxiety was mentioned in 2015/16.This means an increase of more than a third (35%), compared to the figure of 8,642 in the previous year.

Causes ranged from personal issues to broader concerns about current affairs like the EU referendum and the Middle East, according to the charity.

It said the problem appears to be getting worse, with privisional figures showing that from April to September the service dealt with an average of more than 1,000 cases of anxiety a month.

Children as young as eight have used the service to discuss their fears, with girls seven times more likely to contact Childline than boys.

Chief executive of the NSPCC Peter Wanless says parents need to "ensure children are reassured". Credit: PA

Childline president Esther Rantzen said children and young people are sometimes upset by world events.

"Seeing pictures of crying and bewildered toddlers being pulled from bomb-damaged homes upsets all of us," she said. "Often we fail to notice the impact these stories are having on young people."

"The good news is that so many children are able to express their anxiety to Childline, knowing that we will take them seriously, so that we are able to reassure them."

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: "The world can be a worrying place but we need to ensure our children are reassured rather than left overwhelmed and frightened.

"It's only natural for children and young people to feel worried sometimes, but when they are plagued by constant fears that are resulting in panic attacks and making them not want to leave the house then they need support."